Introduction to Chemistry Education

Course: 01:160:387 - Course PDF

Created by Emily L. Atieh and Darrin M. York


This course is designed to serve as an introduction to pedagogy in the science fields, with strong emphasis on gaining experience in teaching chemistry as a teaching intern. The course has two main components:


  1. One 80-minute class per week

  2. One 60-minute office hour per week for General Chemistry students


These two components will constitute the three (3) credits in the course, and each will count toward the letter grade.


This course is by invitation-only and is offered to students who perform well in General Chemistry. Students may enroll in this course as a part of the requirements for the Certificate in Chemistry Education Program or independently; however, priority is given to those in the CCE Program. 



Course Components

Class Time

The first component is an 80-minute "lecture" period once per week. This class will operate as a "flipped" classroom, meaning students spend time outside of the classroom gathering knowledge and most of the time inside the classroom applying, analyzing, and evaluating that knowledge. This will typically be accomplished via assigned weekly readings from the Chemistry Education Research (CER) literature.

Within the 80 minute class period, students work in small groups on activities related to the literature topic for the week. Class discussions and collaborative learning are essential components to ensure understanding of the material. 


Some topics and skills discussed in the weekly sessions include:

  • Student discourse

  • Theories of learning 

  • Cognition and metacognition

  • Collaborative learning

  • Multiple representations in chemistry

  • Diversity and inclusion in the STEM classroom

  • Recent literature in Chemistry Education Research (CER)


Office Hours

Students will serve as Teaching Interns (TIs), as they work with General Chemistry students during a single weekly office hour throughout the semester. During these office hours, students should attempt to apply the theories and ideas from the literature and class discussions. 


Course Goals

  1. Gain basic knowledge and insight a variety of general topics in STEM education and pedagogy

  2. Become proficient with the literature and vernacular in the realm of Science and Chemistry Education Research (CER)

  3. Apply pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) to weekly learning sessions with General Chemistry students

  4. Analyze scientific literature and arguments presented

  5. Reflect on knowledge and experiences to self-evaluate and improve as both an instructor and a learner

  6. Synthesize one’s own informed opinions, arguments, and ideas about education and teaching

  7. Students will recognize that they are life-long learners, and that their own thoughts and understanding of their thoughts may and should evolve over time


Each March, students who perform well in General Chemistry I & II receive invitation to apply for the TI Program. The application mainly includes students information and a few short-answer questions. Students selected from this pool are assigned group interviews in late April and receive a decision by mid-June.


Two semesters of General Chemistry serve as a pre-requisite for this course and may not be taken as a co-requisite. TIs may receive AP credits for the first semester of General Chemistry.


Grade Breakdown

Participation – 15%

Individual – 5%

This course is designed to be an active learning environment. Student participation is key, and students are solely responsible for coming to class prepared. This means all students will have completed all readings and assignments and be prepared to discuss current topics in General Chemistry 161.

Group – 10%

During class each week, students will be assigned an activity related to the readings to be performed in groups. When working with a group, it is important to be sure that each member contributes fairly. The grade on the group participation each week is a group grade, and depends on teamwork, creativity, and the ability to stay on task.

Weekly Reflections – 15%

Reflections are due each Sunday by 11:59pm on Canvas. Students should reflect on both their time in class, as well as their learning session. Instructions and questions for students to address will be posted on Sakai each week.


In addition to submitting one’s own reflection, students should comment on at least one of their colleagues’ reflections per week. Comments should be meaningful, either by offering a suggestion, words of encouragement, or other useful remarks. Students should submit their comments by the following Sunday each week.


Because reflections are essential to becoming more self-aware of one’s own strengths and areas of improvements, the instructor will also post a reflection each week.


Learning Goals – 10%

Students will list their learning goals for the CCE/TI program, which may include personal, professional, or academic goals. Goals should be unique to your situation and intended career path. For students in the CCE Program, this assignment will become Part I of the teaching portfolio.


Paper I: Learning Session Evaluation – 15%

Students will choose a fellow classmate/TI to observe during their learning session and write a paper to address what happened and how it pertains to the topics discussed in class.


Midterm Assessment – 15%

The midterm will be entirely open-ended, and will typically ask questions about activities and readings that students have done in class. Many questions will ask about students’ personal experiences and how they relate to what they have learned.


Paper II: Teaching Philosophy – 15%

The Teaching Philosophy is a 1-2 page statement about a persons’ beliefs as a teacher. While all teaching philosophies are unique, they should contain four parts:

  1. Objectives as a teacher

  2. Methods of teaching to achieve the objectives

  3. Plan of measuring self-efficacy

  4. Why the individual chose to do this

For students in the CCE Program, this will become Part II of the teaching portfolio.

Final Discussion Leadership Project – 15%

Each group will be given a topic to lead a short discussion on at the end of the semester. The discussion should avoid "presentation-style," and instead should be aimed at getting the whole class involved, while still teaching students about the topic at hand.

Grading Policies

Resubmission Policy

With the exception of the Midterm, written assignments may be resubmitted in order to earn back a maximum of half of the points lost. For example, if a student receives an 80% on Paper I, he or she may resubmit it within one (1) week of receiving a grade to earn up to 10% back, leaving a final grade of a 90%.


Extra Credit

Extra credit will not be given unless an extenuating circumstance warrants it, and in such cases, it will be offered to the entire class.




Honors Designation

Honors students are required to take four 3- or 4-credit elective courses that are designated as Honors courses. Honors students taking the Pedagogy Course, Introduction to Chemistry Education, are encouraged to utilize the "contract course" option in order to receive Honors designation for this course*. Both Honors and non-Honors students will meet at the same time and place, work together, and complete identical coursework. However, Honors students will have two additional, related components to complete:


Mini Literature Review

Students create a miniature literature review on a topic within Chemistry Education Research, or a closely-related field, to be completed by the conclusion of the Pedagogy Course. The draft should be approximately 4-6 pages, and should reference multiple papers by different authors. Instructions and a  detailed rubric will be provided during the Pedagogy Course.


Presentation of Mini Literature Review

At the conclusion of the Pedagogy Course, Honors students will present their findings from their written miniature literature review to their classmates in any manner that they choose. The presentation should fill approximately 15-20 minutes, including time for questions and discussion at the end. The presentation should succinctly identify the main arguments and ideas of the literature review Each audience member will complete an anonymous evaluation  such that the presenter can receive feedback and assess their performance. Instructions and a  detailed rubric will be provided during the Pedagogy Course.

*Please note that the decision to take the Pedagogy Course for honors credit must be made prior to the start of the class. Decisions cannot be made retroactively.

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